Heidi's Reviews > Secrets of the Red Lantern: Stories and Recipes from the Heart

Secrets of the Red Lantern by Pauline Nguyen
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Another five star review.

I first heard of this book via Margaret Throsby (and have now decided to create a shelf to that effect), who interviewed Pauline Nguyen last year. I tried to find it at one library, but couldn't; when I found it in the HCLC catalogue, I pounced.

While it is a cookbook, it's also a memoir, and even a survivorography. It was named one of Gourmet/Epicurious' Best Cookbooks of 2008. Between the sections of recipes Nguyen tells the story of her parents decision to leave Vietnam, how they came to Australia, and Pauline's own life under the shadow of her parents' experiences.

I came away from this book with two key things:
1) Next time I'm in Sydney, I want to eat at The Red Lantern (Nguyen's restaurant with her partner and one of her brothers) and,
2) I simultaneously have a great deal of respect for her father, and am horrified by his treatment of his children. Both at the same time. And that's a hard thing to reconcile.

Most of the recipes are a long way from vegetarian, so I'm unlikely to ever make any of them. But reading the recipes (and the comments of Mark Jensen and Luke Nguyen that accompany the recipes) was just as much of a joy as looking at this beautifully produced book and reading the memoir sections.
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Reading Progress

03/03/2009 page 30
03/06/2009 page 52
15.16% "It's heartbreaking and beautiful."
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